Bergamot syrup

Bergamot syrup :: Photographed and styled by Sonja DahlgrenBergamot fruits :: Photographed and styled by Sonja Dahlgren

There are certain things I simply can’t resist. Among them many unusual seasonal delicacies.

Bergamot fruit. Just say it. It almost sounds like music. And it looks like sunshine in the midst of winter.

Bergamot is a fragrant fruit the size of a small orange, with a yellow/orange colour. The juice tastes less sour than lemon, but even more bitter than grapefruit. Imagine that!

Have you ever tasted a bergamot?

Bergamot fruits :: Photographed and styled by Sonja Dahlgren

Of course they don’t grow up here in the cold North, but at this time of year you can order them from Årstiderna – an organic to-your-door service which I use all year round. Årstiderna imports their bergamot from Morocco, and like all of their fruit it is organically grown. Get them from there or keep an eye open for them on your next trip to your farmer’s market or local store.

And although the bergamot has an intense acidity, are terribly quite tart in flavour and nobody in our house eats them “au naturel” (I don’t think anyone does actually) I couldn’t resist buying them.

After all they are a rare seasonal delicacy.

I bought two kilos. And I did have a plan for them. Last year I made bergamot marmalade, but this time I was planning to use some of them for our regular morning juices that we make in our juicer. And mixed with other fruits and vegetables they are great! But for the main part of my two kilos I had other plans.

Bergamot fruits :: Photographed and styled by Sonja DahlgrenBergamot fruits :: Photographed and styled by Sonja Dahlgren

I wanted to use a lot of the rind, since that is where most of the flavour sits. And if you’ve ever wondered what that unusual ingredient in your cup of Earl Grey tea was – that’s bergamot essential oil extracted from the rind.

And after some thinking I decided to make a syrup for use in tea, pancakes and desserts. And I am already in love with it.

My initial plan was to use honey, but after all it doesn’t make a syrup “healthier” just by using honey. And when heating honey, most of the nutritional benefits and healthful compounds are destroyed anyway. So I made the syrup using raw cane sugar. But you could probably use e.g. agave syrup if you’d like to make it somewhat healthier.

Either way it is delicious and really simple to make!

And if you don’t have any bergamot at hand I can imagine it would be lovely to make a similar syrup of any citrus fruit.

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Bergamot syrup

makes about 1 cup

6 bergamot fruits – juice and zest
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup water

1) Wash, zest, and juice the bergamots. Strain the juice and set aside.
2) Combine sugar, water and bergamot zest in a medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until thickened and reduced to about half. This takes about 15-20 minutes.
3) Remove from heat, skim any foam, and strain out the zest. Allow to cool and once cooled stir in the bergamot juice. Transfer to a bottle or jar and store in the fridge.

TIPS! Use for tea, pancakes, desserts or even in a salad dressing. You can also use the syrup with ice and sparkling water for a refreshing drink.

Bergamot fruits :: Photographed and styled by Sonja DahlgrenBergamot syrup :: Photographed and styled by Sonja Dahlgren

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Gluten free and grain free honey granola

Gluten free and grain free honey granola :: Photographed and styled by Sonja Dahlgren

Finally winter has arrived in Gothenburg. After months of mild and rainy weather the freezing cold northern winds let us know that winter is here. For sure.

And I love it.

I love putting on my warmest winter coat and my coziest woolen shawl and step outside to feel the cold grabbing my cheeks and to breathe the fresh air that the cold brings.

Gluten free and grain free honey granola :: Photographed and styled by Sonja Dahlgren

You’d think that I would post something warm on a day like this. And we do frequently have warm breakfasts like porridge or scrambled eggs. Especially in the winter. But granola with yoghurt is my “go-to” breakfast all year round because it is both delicious, fast, healthy and versatile. And I just had to share with you the best granola I’ve ever had.

That I ever made.

Gluten free and grain free honey granola :: Photographed and styled by Sonja DahlgrenGluten free and grain free honey granola :: Photographed and styled by Sonja Dahlgren

I’ve always loved müsli and granola of all sorts (except for over-sweetened store-bought kinds) and I’ve always made it with the traditional mix of grains, seeds and nuts. But as I’m trying to adjust my diet to eat less grains I immediately found this recipe super interesting when I came across it on Pinterest a few weeks ago.

It is not that I have anything at all against grains. I’ve just found that I feel better when eating less grains and fast carbs. And that I don’t get as hungry in between meals when sticking to a diet with more proteins, good fats and lots of vegetables.

Gluten free and grain free honey granola :: Photographed and styled by Sonja Dahlgren

I’ve tried the chocolate version that Gourmande in the Kitchen posted and it is delicious. I just used raw cacao nibs instead of the suggested bittersweet chocolate.

This time though I wanted to make a more basic granola that can easily be varied with different fruits, berries or other toppings. And this is by far the best granola I’ve ever had. And I can hardly wait until summer when we can have it with fresh berries outside on a sunny day…

But, till then I light candles in the windows and embrace the much longed-for winter.

Enjoy!

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Gluten free and grain free honey granola

makes about 3 cups

1 cup almonds
1 cup walnuts
1 cup cashew nuts
pinch of sea salt

6 tbsp honey or maple syrup
4 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp powdered vanilla
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup (40 g) shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds

1) Soak walnuts, almonds and cashew nuts in water with a pinch of salt overnight or for at least 6 hours. Soaking the nuts first removes the enzyme inhibitors, making them easier to digest.
2) Preheat the oven to 95° C (200° F). Drain and rinse the nuts and wipe excess water off using a clean tea towel.
3) Place the nuts in the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer and pulse until just coarsely chopped. If using a stand mixer you might need to help a little by scraping the nuts down the sides a few times.
4) In a sauce pan over low heat melt together the honey, coconut oil and sea salt stirring continually to combine. Add vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon and whisk until well combined.
5) Add the honey mixture to the nuts in the food processor and pulse to combine.
6) Add shredded coconut, chia seeds and sesame seeds to the bowl and pulse again until just until well mixed.
7) Spread the honey nut mixture evenly on a parchment paper on a baking tray and bake for about 4 hours – or until dry, crispy and golden in color.
8) Let the granola cool on the baking tray or leave it in the oven when turned off to dry completely.

Keeps for about a week in an airtight container. I added pistachios and dried pomegranate seeds for color and texture.

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TIPS! If you’re allergic to nuts – the nuts can be replaced with a mix of e.g. sesame seeds, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. Or if for budget reasons (nuts can be quite expensive) you can replace 1/3 or 1/2 of the nuts with sunflower seeds.

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Gluten free and grain free honey granola :: Photographed and styled by Sonja DahlgrenGluten free and grain free honey granola :: Photographed and styled by Sonja Dahlgren

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Inspiration from Austria – Homemade vegetable broth with buckwheat pancakes

Homemade vegetable broth with buckwheat pancakes :: Photographed and styled by Sonja Dahlgren

I hope you had a good start to the new year. Isn’t it a nice thought that at the beginning of a new year everything is allowed to start fresh and you can let yourself forget about past mistakes and sorrows and just start anew?

We just got back from a week of skiing in St. Anton, Austria, which was an excellent way to start off the new year. As always when travelling I get so inspired and uplifted, and this time probably even more so owing to the persistent rain in Scandinavia over Christmas. It was such delight to see the mountains, the snow, to get plenty of exercise and to breathe the fresh alpine air.

And to have soup. Nothing tastes better after a day of skiing, and let me tell you Austria is a heaven for soup lovers.

No meal starts without it.

I am not so impressed in general with the Austrian kitchen. It’s a bit on the heavy side for my tastes. But the soups are delicious.

Homemade vegetable broth with buckwheat pancakes :: Photographed and styled by Sonja DahlgrenHomemade vegetable broth with buckwheat pancakes :: Photographed and styled by Sonja Dahlgren

Frittatensuppe is traditionally a home made beef broth (or consommé) topped with rolled up and then thinly sliced strips of pancake. And I was inspired to go home and make a vegetarian versionwith healthier pancakes. And I chose to make the pancakes both dairy and gluten free. This dish may even become a weekday “go-to” meal for the entire family.

You can of course, if you like, make this on store-bought broth. But every time I make vegetable broth from scratch I wonder why I ever bother buying it in the store. It is so easy.

And so good.

Just chop up some vegetables, sweat them in olive oil, cover with water and simmer for an our, strain and serve. Or freeze in containers for later use.

Homemade vegetable broth with buckwheat pancakes :: Photographed and styled by Sonja Dahlgren

This is a really fresh dish to start the new year. Something you can make over and over and with different toppings (or different broths) throughout the winter. I hope you like it as much as we do!

And do check back soon for some healthy breakfast recipes coming up…

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Homemade vegetable broth

You can make broth using any amount of vegetables that you happen to have on-hand, but it’s good to have a roughly equal portion of each so the result will have a balanced flavor. And the amount of water doesn’t really matter. Less water makes your stock more concentrated, while more water makes a lighter-flavored stock. Here’s what I used this time.

2 onions
3 carrots
5 celery stalks
2 leeks (the green parts)
1 fennel bulb
2 parsnips (or parsley roots)
1 bunch of fresh thyme
1 bunch of fresh parsley
2 bay leafs
1 tsp whole peppercorns
olive oil or other oil of your choice
water

sea salt

1) Wash any visible dirt off the vegetables (peel the roots if you like) and chop them up roughly. Sweat the vegetables in a small amount of olive oil on low heat for about 6-7 minutes. This step can be skipped, but it does release more flavour.
2) Cover the vegetables with water. But not too much – make sure there’s enough room so you can easily stir them in the pot. Bring the pot to just under a boil. Once you start to see some bubbling around the edges of the pot, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for about an hour. Just give it a good stir every now and then.
3) Take the pot off the stove and remove all the vegetables with a slotted spoon. Set your strainer over a big bowl and line it with cheese cloth or coffee filters. Pour the broth through.
4) Season the broth with salt and pepper and serve with finely sliced buckwheat pancakes.

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Buckwheat pancakes

makes 12-15 pancakes

1 cup (90 g) buckwheat flour
1/2 cup (50 g) brown rice flour
3 cups (720 ml) unsweetened almond milk (or milk of your choice)
3 large eggs
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
pinch of sea salt

1) In a large mixing bowl mix all ingredients and whisk until you have a smooth batter.
2) Cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Give the batter a good whisk before frying the pancakes as the flour tends to sink to the bottom.
3) Heat a non-stick pan or an oiled pancake skillet and fry the pancakes on medium-high heat.
4) Place the pancakes on a plate to cool and when ready to serve with the broth, just roll them up and slice very thin strips.

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Serve the broth with the thinly sliced pancake strips, parsley, sprouts, garden cress or whatever you have at hand that tastes good and looks good!

Homemade vegetable broth with buckwheat pancakes :: Photographed and styled by Sonja DahlgrenHomemade vegetable broth with buckwheat pancakes :: Photographed and styled by Sonja DahlgrenThyme :: Photographed and styled by Sonja Dahlgren

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Gingerbread spiced almond & apricot energy balls

Dagmar's Kitchen :: Gingerbread spiced almond & apricot energy balls

I hope you’re having the best holiday ever. Me and my family have had the coziest and laziest days just listening to music, playing board games (ok, some iPad too…), sniffing hyacinths, playing with new toys (very much enjoying Wii Just Dance 2014) and taking long walks in the rain. We’ve had nothing but rain for the last three weeks or so, hence the christmas feeling is mostly inside. And we’re trying hard to give the rabbits a bit of christmas feeling too (they live outside) – making sure they have dry hay and a piece of apple or carrot every day. We even made a little wreath for them.

Dagmar's Kitchen :: Gingerbread spiced almond & apricot energy ballsDagmar's Kitchen :: Gingerbread spiced almond & apricot energy balls

I wasn’t planning on blogging anything this christmas. But these little energy balls filled with goodness and nutrition turned out so good. I simply had to share them with you. And if you’re tired at all of traditional christmas sweets, these could be the thing for you.

I know you read gingerbread in the title but don’t let that put you off. I promise, these are worth considering making. And they are really versatile too, as you can easily swap the gingerbread spices for cocoa powder and make these, should you be tired of traditional christmas flavors…

Dagmar's Kitchen :: Gingerbread spiced almond & apricot energy ballsDagmar's Kitchen :: Gingerbread spiced almond & apricot energy balls

Most recipes with dried fruit call for dates, but I like apricots better. They aren’t as sweet as dates and they have one of the lowest glycemic index of all dried fruit – only 31 in fact. Just make sure you go for sulfite free apricots (they are dark brown in color) and preferably organic.

Wishing you a wonderful new year and thank you for your support this year. See you in 2014!

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Gingerbread spiced almond & apricot energy balls

makes about 20

1 cup (200 g) dried apricots
1 1/2 cup (200 g) almond flour
50 g raw cocoa nibs (can be omitted but they do add a nice crunch)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
0,5 tsp sea salt
juice from 2 small clementines (or 1 orange)

finely chopped almonds, cinnamon, chia seeds etc. to roll in

1) Place all ingredients in a high speed blender or in a food processor. Pulse until mixed well. You might need to stop and scrape the mix down the sides a few times during the process if your blender isn’t powerful enough. I have a Kitchen aid blender and the only thing I find a little problematic is to mix sticky stuff. But it does the work fine with a little help.
2) When all ingredients are well mixed and puréed use your hands to form 20 round balls. Roll them in chopped almonds, cinnamon or chia seeds and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

Dagmar's Kitchen :: Gingerbread spiced almond & apricot energy ballsDagmar's Kitchen :: Gingerbread spiced almond & apricot energy balls

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Wishing you the sweetest holiday

Chocolate bark with pistachios and sea salt

Wishing you and yours the sweetest holiday. Take good care of each other, eat with sense, have some sweets (but not too many) and don’t forget to do some exercise in between gatherings.

See you again soon after the holidays!

//Sonja

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